Sunday, 27 May
We awoke at the reasonable time of 8.30am and settled on doing a self-guided walk after breakfast. The sky was blue and every man and his dog were out in force. Actually, we’ve been quite surprised at how large the crowds are. Given is this only the beginning of the tourist season, I’m glad we’re not here much later.
It was a hectic pace as we spent the day wandering through little lanes and squares, touring the Amsterdam Museum and Anne Frank’s house. Some of the areas are more picturesque than others but overall it’s more of a large town than a big city. I especially love that there are no buildings higher than 8 storeys. It doesn’t have the grandeur or Paris or Vienna, but it does have that infectious feel like a University campus. I think we walked about 8km throughout the day, which is just as well because we had already consumed rhubarb ice cream and Dutch frites before lunch. Dwayne bought several cheese rounds. We also went to the Red Light district tonight and were surprised at how tame and non-sleazy the whole scene was. The girls were all wearing underwear that
was no more revealing than some swimsuits and even the porno clubs don’t show anything of what is inside. It was a rather pleasant stroll compared to what I was expecting.
We’ve survived the day without a nap and whilst we’re both tired, it is 10.30pm and I’d normally be heading to bed at this time anyway. Looks like we’ve been spared the jetlag and have settled into a normal sleep routine. Monday, 28 May
Before I talk about our fantastic day, I do need to list some of the interesting dishes we’ve had: Apple and beetroot Juice, lemon muesli, rhubarb ice cream, stroopwafels and a whole variety of flavoured gouda cheeses including fenugreek and chilli. Most of these things I wouldn’t have again, but you have to try these things. When in Rome…
Back to today: Forget walking – Amsterdam is best enjoyed by bike and boat! We hired a couple of bikes from our landlord and spent the day cycling the entire city from east to west, north to south and not a helmet in sight. It was thrilling. We had no plans so started in Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s version of Central Park. It had wide paths, fountains, large grassy expansions under cooling trees eager to share their shade, wading pools where all the parents and kids hung out, dogs jumping into the lake following thrown sticks and there was the odd wildlife like Heron. We left to follow a canal and when an interesting cross street looked appealing, we’d turn and follow that until the next canal.
For lunch we stopped at the Pancake Bakery in the Jordaan neighbourhood, took a seat overlooking a major canal and watched the world go by whilst eating Cheese & Ginger pancakes and Dutch Cherry Poffertjes (mini pikelets). There certainly was a lot of world to watch, as the whole city was on the water and there wasn’t any more than 10 seconds in between them all.
It would be pretty cool to grow up as a kid here. No bikes helmets, no life jackets on the water, no child proof fences or “do not swim” signs around shallow fountains or lakes, dogs and cats allowed in cafes, restaurants and parks, no age restriction on when you can skipper a boat (we saw a 7yr old boy approx. at the wheel of one of the family boats) and less supervision apparently. I’ve seen numerous kids under 13 on their bikes riding without adults. It highlights how much of a nanny state Australia is and how much I dislike the political and regulatory interference in removing the notion of “personal responsibility”.
To finish the day we went on a sunset canal cruise, motoring notoriously close to the canal walls – within mere inches. The guide was informative and as it was an English speaking cruise, we met several Americans and an Australian couple from WA, who we spent most of the 1.5hrs chatting to. Such a great way to end our stay.
Amsterdam is one of the rare places in the world where you can fish directly from your balcony!
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